On ‘cuteness’

British Journal of Aesthetics 32 (2):162-165 (1992)
Abstract
For John Morreall, cuteness is an abstract general attribute of infants that causes adults to want to care for them (or which is the reason, or at least important reason, for such solicitousness). I shall try to show, in what follows, that this is, if not an altogether fallacious way of explaining the matter, at least an extremely misleading one. As it stands, in particular, it is too easy to infer from Morreall's line of reasoning 1) that infants in general might conceivably never have developed cuteness, and 2) that infants, because of this deficiency, would then not be cared for as adequately by their parents. An equally wrong further implication, which further helps to express my difficulty with Morreall's formulation of the matter, would be that if baby spiders (for example) had happened to have the abstract general characteristic called 'cuteness', while human children did not have it, then human adults would have been more inclined to care for baby spiders than for baby humans. It is to avoid such oddities as these that, it seems to me, a further consideration of the problem is warranted.
Keywords cuteness
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